Munster enter the final round of the Heineken Cup’s pool stages knowing exactly what they have to do – register a bonus point win over Edinburgh in Limerick and a home quarter-final will be their reward.
HEINEKEN CUP POOL 6: Sunday, January 19
MUNSTER (1st) v EDINBURGH (2nd), Thomond Park, 12.45pm (live Sky Sports 2 HD/Newstalk/highlights TG4)
Team News: Head coach Rob Penney has named his Munster team to face Edinburgh on Sunday in round 6 of the Heineken Cup, with only one change to the side that defeated Gloucester 20-7 at Kingsholm.
This week there is a switch at tighthead prop with Stephen Archer starting next to Damien Varley and David Kilcoyne in the front row, with BJ Botha moving to the replacements.
Paddy Butler, named on the bench, is also included in a Heineken Cup squad for the first time since injuring his thumb against the same opposition in October.
Butler most recently made his return to action, starting against Connacht in the league and last week played the full 80 minutes for the Munster ‘A’ side against Nottingham in the British & Irish Cup.
Speaking about Sunday’s sold-out clash with the Scots and the drive to secure a home quarter-final, Munster captain Peter O’Mahony said: “Look, we’re a professional rugby team and know what has to be done, we’ve enough guys in the squad who have been there before and who know the scenario.
“We know we have to do a job, we can’t influence anything else other than the 80 minutes we have on Sunday so we’ve got to get ourselves right for it. It is tough at times but you’ve got to put it to bed and worry about your own house.
“Obviously, there’s a couple of games after us (in the qualification scenario). We will also know roughly what we have to do but we’re not going to be worried about it.
“To be fair, we’ve never been a side that looks past what’s in front of us and Edinburgh is what we’re worried about.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has stuck with a winning formula for his side’s trip to Limerick to face Pool 6 winners Munster.
Solomons has reselected the entire matchday 23 that defeated French club Perpignan26-17 at Murrayfield last Saturday, as the Scots look to progress to the last-eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
To do so they will have to reproduce the kind of performance that saw them overcome Munster 29-23 at home in the opening round.
Solomons’ decision to keep faith with the same squad means that 23-year-old winger Tom Brown, who scored the opening try against Perpignan, will lead the team out at Thomond Park on his 50th appearance for the club.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; David Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, David Foley, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paddy Butler, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Simon Zebo.
EDINBURGH: Jack Cuthbert; Dougie Fife, Nick De Luca, Ben Atiga, Tom Brown; Greig Tonks, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Izak van der Westhuizen, Cornell du Preez, Roddy Grant, David Denton.
Replacements: Aleki Lutui, Wicus Blaauw, Geoff Cross, Ollie Atkins, Tomas Leonardi, Grayson Hart, Carl Bezuidenhout, Joaquin Dominguez.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Roy Maybank (both England)
Television Match Official: Sean Davey (England)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/33; Draw: 40/1; Edinburgh to win: 11/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Peter O’Mahony (Munster) – “The game-plan Edinburgh have is not overly flashy but they are very comfortable with it and effective at it.
“That is the direction they are going – playing simple but tough rugby – and they are very difficult to defend at times when they get you where they want you.
“There is a huge physicality there – they have a couple of huge ball carriers not only in the pack but in the backs too and we know it is going to be hard to top them at source.
“They have shown in their form over the past few months that they are a team that is building and are acquiring traits that make them tough to play against.
“There are huge ramifications for us and them – seeding for the Amlin for them and we have a lot to play for too. So neither side will be holding back.
“(Greig) Laidlaw is an extremely good kicker and runs their game-plan extremely well. I think they have come a long way since we played them in the first round.
“They beat us then and I know we didn’t play very well over there but they played quite well and executed their game-plan. So, they will be difficult to stop, but we have plenty to play for as well on Sunday and we are not going to lie down and roll over.”
Alan Solomons (Edinburgh) – “Munster are one of the top teams in Europe and have been for some time. They have a tremendous tradition and heritage.
“They are notoriously difficult in Limerick and are fighting to secure a home quarter-final. The challenges don’t get much bigger than that.
“In round 1 we showed that we had advanced enough as a team to win against a top side but, rest assured, Munster will be keen to set the record straight, I have no doubt about that.
“The important thing for us is that, since then, we have continued to improve as a team and are looking forward to this challenge.
“I thought that the win against Perpignan last Saturday was a very good performance and that more of the same was meritted.
“All the lads got in and were part of it, and felt part of it, and I think that was important. This is going to be a very tough, demanding fixture and we are going to need the same again from all 23 in this match.”
Current Form – Munster – (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 34-23 at home to Edinburgh; Won 43-21 away to Zebre; Lost 29-19 away to Benetton Treviso; Won 23-9 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Won 19-15 at home to Leinster; (Heineken Cup): Lost 29-23 away to Edinburgh; Won 26-10 at home to Gloucester; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 13-6 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 12-6 at home to the Ospreys; Won 31-10 away to Cardiff Blues; Won 18-14 away to the Newport Gwent Dragons; (Heineken Cup): Won 36-8 at home to Perpignan; Won 18-17 away to Perpignan; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 16-10 at home to the Scarlets; Won 22-16 at home to Connacht; Lost 29-19 away to Ulster; (Heineken Cup): Won 20-7 away to Gloucester
Edinburgh – (RaboDirect PRO12): Lost 34-23 away to Munster; Won 16-13 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Lost 44-10 away to the Ospreys; Lost 22-9 at home to the Scarlets; Lost 29-12 away to the Cardiff Blues; (Heineken Cup): Won 29-23 at home to Edinburgh; Lost 31-14 away to Perpignan; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 20-13 at home to Benetton Treviso; Won 25-23 at home to Zebre; Lost 41-17 away to Ulster; Won 43-10 at home to Edinburgh; (Heineken Cup): Lost 23-12 at home to Gloucester; Won 16-10 away to Gloucester; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 11-6 at home to Leinster; Lost 20-16 at home to Glasgow Warriors; (Heineken Cup): Won 27-16 at home to Perpignan
Top Scorers – 2013/14 Heineken Cup: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 54; Tries: Keith Earls 2; Edinburgh – Points: Greig Laidlaw 37; Tries: Tim Visser, Cornell du Preez 2 each
Previous European Meetings: 3
Saturday, October 12, 2013 – Pool 6 – Edinburgh 29 Munster 23, Murrayfield
Sunday, January 13, 2013 – Pool 1 – Edinburgh 17 Munster 26, Murrayfield
Sunday, October 21, 2012 – Pool 1 – Munster 33 Edinburgh 0, Thomond Park
Match Facts & Figures –
– This will be the fourth Heineken Cup meeting between the teams. Munster won both games in 2012/13, but Edinburgh beat the former European champions 29-23 in October
– In that round 1 victory, Edinburgh missed just four tackles
– Cornell du Preez is top of the tackle charts after five rounds with 71 tackles in his 400 minutes of action
– Edinburgh have the best tackle success rate (91%) of any side this season
Heineken Cup Records:
2012/13: Reached the semi-finals
2011/12: Reached the quarter-finals
2010/11: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2009/10: Reached the semi-finals
2008/09: Reached the semi-finals
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2004/05: Reached the quarter-finals
2003/04: Reached the semi-finals
2002/03: Reached the semi-finals
2000/01: Reached the semi-finals
1998/99: Reached the quarter-finals
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool D
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool D
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool D
2012/13: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2011/12: Reached the semi-finals
2010/11: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2009/10: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2003/04: Reached the quarter-finals
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool C
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool A